|demanding the release of Bradley Manning|
By New Worker correspondent
CROWDS of people gathered in Grosvenor Square outside the Unites States Embassy last Saturday in a noisy and colourful assembly to demand the release of US Army Private Bradley Manning – the man who, allegedly, leaked thousands of embarrassing classified US army documents to Wikileaks, who published them on the internet.
The event was part of a global day of action with more than 70 events in 15 different countries to mark Bradley’s 1000th day in prison without trial.
Organisations represented at the embassy picket included Friends of Bradley Manning UK, Veterans for Peace UK, Queer Strike, All African Women's Network, Women Against Rape, WiseUpAction.info, PayDay Men's Network, London Catholic Worker and Occupy London.
There were plenty of colourful banners and placards, not just for Bradley Manning but other political prisoners in the US, Israel and other places.
The names Mumia Abu Jamal, Shaker Aamer and Julian Assange were mentioned, along with Samer Alissawi (Palestinian on hunger strike in Israeli jail) and Natan Blanc (19-year-old Israel jailed for refusing to be conscripted into Israel’s army).
There were several placards with a picture and the slogan: “Bradley Manning – our queer whistle-blower hero”. And there was a cheer when comrades turned up with the Ecuadorean flag – from their constant solidarity picket outside the Ecuadorean Embassy where Julian Assange has been given asylum but is constantly besieged by police waiting to arrest Assange if he were to emerge.
There was a long line of speakers. Ciaron O’Reilly of the London Catholic Worker told the crowd that Bradley manning will have been tortured and put under enormous pressure to implicate Assange in all manner of bad things. But though he is young and not very big and gay, Manning has not broken. He has shown enormous courage.
A speaker from the All African Women’s Group said that many women in that group had come to Britain to escape from wars and “Bradley manning tells the truth about these wars, and it needs to be told.”
An American war Veteran for Peace posed the question: “If truth is always the first casualty of war, can we win peace by telling the truth?”
Another speaker suggested world peace might be more attainable “if we water-boarded a few bankers”.
The African Women’s Group led a few sessions of very powerful, almost musical, slogan chanting.
And London’s Hare Krishna community expressed their solidarity by supplying hot curry and hot drinks to all the protesters, which was very welcome given the freezing conditions and enabled people to stay with the protest for longer.
Bradley Manning’s leaking of classified US Army documents, now known as the "Iraq War Logs," to whistleblowing website Wikileaks revealed shocking details of war crimes committed by the US Army in Iraq, including the notorious "Collateral Damage" helicopter gunship cockpit video which showed American pilots indiscriminately murdering civilians and journalists.
Denied a speedy trial, and having been subjected to cruel and punitive treatment in military prisons which have been classified as torture by Amnesty International and other Human Rights organisations, Manning's supporters are calling for the US Army's prosecutors to stop hindering Manning's legal team access to important evidence at every turn.